Weekend Devotion: Killing Insecurity 

  
Image created with wordswag, used with permission. 

Weekend Devotion: Insecurity is not humility. Humility is a right assessment of oneself in relation to God. Let’s explore pride. 

Pride is preoccupation with self whether positive or negative. Pride refuses help-I don’t need or want assistance even if it is greatly needed. Pride fuels unbelief (not agreeing with God), bickering (I know better than you), jealousy (I deserve that attention), competition (I deserve to be first), put downs, mean sarcasm/excessive criticism, racism and sexism (someone must be inferior for me to feel superior), rebellion, self pity, insecurity, clamors to be promoted (give me a title, put me in charge), unwilling to serve/sacrifice for others. And a host of other things…

I did not feel bad about myself until I stepped into ministry. It is okay. God has healed the damage done by well meaning Christians. 

When I entered ministry I was told feeling like dirt was humility. I needed to pretend to be bad at things to give God glory. Not sure how that works? “Oh God, I am ugly, untalented, have nothing to offer, horrible“,. God responds, “Ummm I made you, so you are saying as a Creator/Artist I am not very skilled?” 

He is the Artist, we are His artwork. Insulting the artwork is insulting the Artist. 

I noticed people who ascribed to worm theology (some not all) struggled with loving others. Why? Because they thought so low of themselves. We can only give away the love we have first received. If I feel like dirt, how am I going to love, empower others? If I feel like dirt, I will most likely struggle with jealousy/comparison, and cut others down to feel better. 

I also realized worm theology and “I am dirt” is just the flip coin of pride. It is saying, “My opinion of me is more important than God’s. I know better than God. Me! Me! Me! Woah is me. I am but a wretched worm.” 

I love what Pastor Bill Johnson says, “I can not afford to have a thought in my head that God doesn’t have in His.” 

How do earthly parents feel about their kids? Just look at Social Media and you can see it. They brag on their kids all day, every day. God loves infinitely more. He is not looking to suppress what He has given or created. 

God is proud of His kids. He cheers for His kids. He believes in His kids. He says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He, through Jesus, seated us in heavenly places and made us joint heirs with Jesus. We are His workmanship created for His glory. We are highly valued by God. Jesus paid for our lives with His. God doesn’t make junk. 

We are not God. We are not to be worshipped, elevated to His equal or above Him. We are though to honor what He created. It brings Him glory. 

How did Jesus walk out humility? I never read of Him having perpetual pity parties or insulting Himself, nor pretending He wasn’t who the Father said He was. 

Jesus served. He did not demand others serve Him. Humility is willing to serve, even without credit/glamor. 

Jesus forgives. Pride holds onto grudges. 

Jesus empowers others. He believed in the disciples, gave them chances before they proved themselves, and knowing sometimes they would fail. 

Jesus accepted help from others. Pride doesn’t want help. Jesus invited the disciples to pray for Him. 

Jesus sacrificially loved. Pride is “me focused”-serve me, love me, bless me. Me! Me! Me! 

Jesus acknowledged His dependence on the Father. 

Jesus had a right assessment of Himself in relation to the Father. 

Jesus gave others chances to shine/step into their destiny. After He multiplied the fish and loaves, He invites the disciples to do the same. 

Jesus associated with the weak, broken, outcasts of society. He wasn’t too good to be with the least of them. 

He did not look down His nose on others. 

Jesus empowered women and treated them with respect, honor, dignity. 

Jesus did not have to send out business cards “Messiah”, or walk in the room and say, “I am here, bow to Me peasants.” He walked in agape love and power; it drew people to Him and the Father. 

Jesus washed feet. He served those who would later betray Him. 

Jesus said, “When you see Me, you have seen the Father.” He invites us to abide in Him so other’s see the Father. 

Jesus submitted His entire life to the Father. Out of love He submitted. Pride hates to come into agreement with others. It demands it’s own way. 

Good news, if we have pride there is forgiveness and mercy. I am not immune from pride. I have found when I disagree with God, that’s pride. When I focus too much on me, pride. When I overshare out of excitement and forget to listen or to consider my audience, pride. God says, “Come be loved by Me.” 

Pride melts away in His Presence. He doesn’t beat me up. He loves me to life. Being with Him and agreeing with Him leads to transformation. He, as the Masterful Surgeon, prunes away in love. We are all in process, being transformed from glory to glory. 

So may you and I abide in His love, stay connected to the Vine, agree with God, and love ourselves as He does. The love we receive can be poured out on Him. Then we can love our neighbor as ourselves.

Surviving the Critics (Killing Insecurity Part 5)

6d1febefd541bf7d0f6c19b77ac6c1ed

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety,~Proverbs 29:25

One of the reasons people struggle with insecurity is due to being surrounded by critical people. God doesn’t want us to be insecure. The problem comes when you are bombarded with real life experiences with people who are curt with their tongue, critical, and some even abusive.  Here are some things I have learned along the way.

1. The way a person treats you or talks to you is a reflection of their heart.

It has nothing to do with you. You may be the target of the day or week, but the Bible says the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Matthew 12:34). Someone who is rude or cruel to you is most likely rude or cruel to other people. We give what we possess. If there is no love or compassion in a person, they can not give it to you.

2. Insecure people are easily offended and often the greatest offenders.

When we are insecure with who we are, we put other people down.  When we love who we are, we  build others up. I had an old acquaintance who was constantly making fun of other people, one day as a side experiment I begin to lovingly tease her about something (not mean, cruel, or embarrassing,… just teasing). She became extremely offended and stormed off. She had spent the entire night making fun of others, but she couldn’t handle it being dished back. I don’t recommend my little experiment. I was at the time very annoyed she was picking on people. The right response would have been to pull her aside or ignore her. I mind less people picking on me, than to see them picking on other people, especially for things they can’t help (ie. being bald, or their ethnicity, etc…).

3. The criticism hurts the most where you are the most insecure.

If we are secure in Christ and confident, then the criticism doesn’t bother us as much. I had a secretary who was very critical. She would call me bald (though I have long, thick hair) or she’d call me pale, old, or critique my clothing. None of her comments bothered me.

I have found the hardest criticism to get over has come from being involved in ministry, mainly because I am young and learning along the way. Leaders are expected to be perfect, and I am not. Only God is perfect. You expect (though may not be a good idea) for Christians to be loving, encouraging (like God), helpful, supportive, to speak the truth in love (for redemptive purposes), and to want to see you be the best for Jesus. I’ve found there are people in church who will hate you without cause, speak negative words over your life, gossip about you, criticize your every move, question your motives, feel free to give you their opinions on who you should be, how you should live, etc…it takes thick skin to be involved in ministry and even Christian community. If you are not firmly secure in Christ, you will be destroyed by people.

So what do you do with the critics when they come?

  • Respond in love. It’s easy to retaliate and say, “Oh, you want to tell me about me. Let me tell you about you.” Don’t go there. Take the high road if you can. Sometimes you have to say to people, “You are being rude and disrespectful. When you can talk to me in an appropriate tone, then we can talk. ” Or ask them what the real problem is. Hurting people go around hurting other people. Though not easy, you don’t have to defend yourself. I had a lady from a church curse me out in a public restaurant, and I did not respond at all. I continued to walk in grace and love. That was hard, because I don’t like being called names and normally I would’ve defended myself. However, God is my defense. He’s yours too! Here’s a quote I love, “It’s not what people call you, it’s what you answer to that matters.” A gift is only yours if you take it. So let people keep their hatefulness. It doesn’t belong to you.
  • Measure what they say against God’s word and character. God speaks life. Even His correction is to lead to redemption, restoration, and to help us. Is the word leading you to a closer walk with Jesus? Is the feedback something you’d imagine God giving you? Do you leave the situation feeling like there’s hope or do you feel hopeless?
  • Take the criticism to God.  God sees the deepest parts of our hearts. He’s the best person to talk to about the criticism or negative words. “God is this true of me? If so help me.”  Whatever He says to throw in the garbage, pitch it!

I will say that there are constructive and helpful assessments that we should be open to. If you are headed off a cliff and someone yells, “Don’t jump, this isn’t a good decision,” it’s because they love you. Sometimes people get offended when they need corrected and someone genuinely tries to help them. We must be open to people providing feedback, but also take that feedback to God and measure it against His word. Feedback when it’s done right, helps us grow.

Don’t let people define who you are, God defines who you are. What He says about you is absolutely true! May we find our identity in Christ. It is the only secure identity and source of true confidence.

89ec51c6b6ad34eef87ced10259c92d3

The Trap of Success (Killing Insecurity Part 3)

8f13a3eb81deba9a50d7a5ff094a32b4

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were doing it for God rather than for people,~Colossians 3:23.

We live in a world that measures success by the amount of money a person makes, their possessions, their academic achievements (the highest GPA, or degrees), their intelligence (IQ), their ability to play a sport well, their performance (the best singer, dancer, actor or actress), their ministry (is it growing? is it big? how many people have been impacted?), or even their ability to have a great marriage or great kids. Our world measures success very differently than God does. We base success on externals. God looks at the heart and whether or not we are faithful. Faithfulness is important to God. Winning is something we value.

Faithful (definition):

1. thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker. 2. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc. 3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends. 4. reliable, trusted, or believed. 5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.

Let’s investigate this trap….

I. Our worth is based on what we can do (how well we do things) or what we do (are we the best at what we do) or what we have (I’ve achieved so much). If we are finding security in what we can do, what we do, or what we have, then our foundation is as shaky as shifting sands. There will always be someone  who has more, can do more…and if our esteem is rooted in those things we will either spend our lives striving for success, competing with others, looking down on people who we don’t perceive are as good as we think we are, or feeling insecure because we are not as successful as we think we should be.

The problem:

  • If our worth is rooted in our ability to succeed, it promotes pride. If we succeed, we pat ourselves on the back and inflate our ego. If we fail (by our standards or the world’s), then we fall into self-pity and shame. We keep striving to be better for our ego. It’s not about being faithful to whatever God calls us to do, it’s about succeeding at whatever we set our minds to do. We are not what we do. We become addicted to success so we can feel good about ourselves or establish identity.

The solution:

  • An identity rooted in Christ. Our worth is not determined by what we can do or accomplish. We are valuable because God says that we are. If we know who we are in Him, we will be lead to excellence for His glory, not success for our ego. People in the Bible had flaws, moral failures, made mistakes, and God still used them. He looked at the heart, qualified the unqualified, restored the broken, and rewarded faithfulness.

II. Our self built monuments are not as valuable as we think. We can build quite a monument for ourselves. And if we have no monument for our achievements, we have a monuments of shame for what we haven’t accomplished.

The problem:

  • The focus is us and not God. Everything we can do is because He enables us to do them. If He spoke to end our lives, He could do so. Everything in the Universe is held together by an awesome God. If there is greatness in us, it’s because He is great. Our monuments of glory or shame are worthless in comparison to who He is.

The solution:

  • Acknowledging everything we do is only because of Him. Giving Him the credit for the good things in our lives. Thanking Him for we can do nothing without Him. Even those who don’t know Him are alive and gifted because He allows it. The gifts, talents, skills, and intelligence are given by Him.

God is not opposed to higher education; excellence in craftsmanship, talent or skill. He wants us to steward gifts given by Him. The goal is not to find our value in what we do or success at what we do. If we do, then it promotes insecurity. Money can be lost, marriages can fail, children can disappoint you, a head injury could destroy mental capabilities, jobs can be lost, and if success is what motivates us-then we will bail when we’re not successful or be miserable.

Testimony:

I’ve been fortunate to be placed in situations where God called me to be faithful, but in my eyes and the eyes of others there was not success. I devoted 7 years to leading Bible studies and home groups. Looking back on some of those years I felt like a failure or there were moments I felt it was a waste of time. People would show up sometimes and other times they wouldn’t. You’d prepare a teaching or worship and people would be on their smartphones texting, chatting with each other, or disinterested. You’d pour into people and have them tell you they didn’t want to be pointed to the truth of the Gospel. You’d pray and things would get worse. Finally God spoke these words that changed my perspective, “I honor faithfulness. You were faithful to do what I ask you to do.” When I become focused on succeeding or measuring up to some standard, I can be reminded that God honors faithfulness! It’s about Him and His ability, not me and my ability. And I’ve learned from those situations to be more of a helper/encourager to those God places over me and other people, not to expect perfection and to help/encourage others remain faithful to what God calls them to do. So, I am somewhat thankful for those years…

Final Notes:

This world will pass away and all that is in it. There won’t be a world’s most successful person bulletin in heaven. We won’t have a bigger mansion or more privileges in heaven based on success on earth. Money, titles…those things won’t matter. God honors faithfulness. May we be faithful to whatever God asks us to do.

Who Said You’re Not Beautiful? (Killing Insecurity Part 2)

4effd39f90395bc2be1f1f77635a5bc0

 

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand—

when I awake, I am still with you,~Psalm 139:14-18.

I started us out with Psalm 139. The Bible tells us that we were God’s idea. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. He is the beholder. So, if God calls us beautiful, why don’t more people feel empowered, beautiful, and valuable? There are so many reasons why we (humans) feel less than what God says. Let’s investigate some of the reasons why and seek to combat them.

1. The voice of man over the voice of God.

Children are not born believing they are ugly, unwanted, or not valuable. I have spent quite some time with children and if their parents encouraged and loved them, they are quite confident. They believe they are invincible. Some may be shy, but children don’t have a concept of beauty or what is considered ugly until someone tells them. There are some biological forces at work with attraction (we are more apt to be attracted to someone with certain symmetry and shapes), but for the most part we are told from childhood on up what we are to value and what we are not. Children who are labeled as cute are told, “He/she is so cute! So adorable!” Children are very perceptive. They can see what is considered valuable and what is not.

Our society works diligently to tell the world what is beautiful and valuable. Turn on the TV, look through a magazine…Marketing is designed to tell us what we need to do in order to be more beautiful or valuable. Here are some examples, “Get rid of those wrinkles, whiten those teeth, flatten those abs, build those muscles, look like this person, do this and you will be the most loved, liked, and happy person in the world.

The Problem: Allowing people (including ourselves) to define what is valuable or beautiful. Valuing the opinions of man over the opinion of God.

The Solution: Allowing God to define what is valuable or beautiful. God cannot lie. Meditating on His words, living in His acceptance, and professing His words ourselves.

It’s not easy to combat all the voices coming at us. From the time we are young there are voices attacking our identity. There is rejection from peers, negative words spoken over us, we are bombarded with images of people we are told are the most beautiful, successful, and valuable people in the world. We are told humility is self-deprecation (thinking we are nothing) which is simply another form of pride (valuing our opinion over God’s). We can’t go one day without being told what we can do to become more valuable, acceptable, beautiful. The truth is-we are already beautiful and valuable!

Prayer:

Father I ask for lies we believe about ourselves to be revealed, renounced, uprooted, and demolished. Replace every lie with Your truth. Help us to have Your thoughts as our thoughts. Protect our eyes from being fixed on the world’s standards and may they we permanently fixed on You!

2. Comparison.

I read this somewhere and it stuck with me, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” We become discontent when we compare ourselves to others. As humans we are taught to compare. “Which one of these is not like the other?” And when we are finished picking out what’s different, we were taught to discard the one that was different. When I was a kid, being tan with full features wasn’t glorified. I was teased in school for looking different from other kids. Now being tan/brown is celebrated. Women pay to have their eyes lifted to be wider and lips filled with collagen to be fuller. If I compare who I am to other people, I will never celebrate who God made me to be. God did not make us all to look the same or have the same gift combinations for a reason. He values diversity and every person has a special role in His Kingdom. It would be boring if we were all the same. We must accept and value who we are and what we have in order to have contentment and joy. No trying to keep up with the Joneses…or envying or being jealous of them either. We all have tremendous value, something to offer, and the love of an amazing Father!

Closing Thoughts:

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were God’s idea. No matter what anyone else says about you, you have tremendous value and worth. You were worth dying for. Jesus paid the highest price to redeem mankind. The value of something is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it. God paid the highest price. I encourage you (I will do it too) to recited the verses of Psalm 139. Chew on, meditate on God’s word. And when those voices rise up and say, “You are not enough, not beautiful enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, not good enough,”…you and I can say, “I am who God says I am! I am a child of the King. He paid the highest price for me because He values me. I am made in His image. I am beautiful! In Him I am enough.

4960ae43ea7afd68a5c44f1978205f2b